November Gardening Tips

As the outside gardening season starts to wind down, here are some chilly chores to tackle before you throw in the towel!


Frosted! Cold, freezing nights bring an end to the outside gardening season for annuals and tropical plants. All should be removed from pots, planters, window boxes, and the garden. If plants are free of any insect or disease problems, compost them.

Empty pots? It’s time to clean and store all for the winter. Unless the pots are 4-season hardy (translation: they will survive ice and snow), they should be emptied and cleaned for winter storage. Terra cotta and plastic pots can be soaked in a tub using nine parts warm water to one part bleach to remove all soil and debris. A wire brush can fine-tune any remaining residue. Rinse and store in a frost-free location. That’s one less thing to do next spring!

Dig and store tender bulbs—dahlias, elephant ears, caladiums, cannas—for the winter months. If left in the ground, they will rot and die. Store bulbs in a cool, frost-free location. Check periodically for any signs of rot. If found, discard.

Continue to water landscape plants until the ground freezes. If your automatic sprinkler has been turned off for the season, use a hose to supplement with needed water if rainfall has been lacking. (Certainly not the case recently!)

Not a favorite chore for many, but keep up with fallen leaves. Too many leaves? Start a compost pile and use that “black gold” next spring in the garden.

November is an ideal time to plant spring flowering bulbs. Tulips, daffodils, crocus, and other spring bloomers need to be planted in the fall so they can be enjoyed next spring.

Hostas, Astilbes, and other perennials are tired after a long, hot summer. It’s time to cut back and clean up for their winter rest. Clippings, as long as they are free of insect and disease problems, can be composted.

It’s warm inside; that’s your cue to enjoy some inside gardening chores.

As tempting as it might be, it’s best to not fertilize houseplants during the winter months. Resume feeding in late February.

Add a houseplant or two to help “clean the air” inside your home. Spathiphyllum (peace lily), Dracaena, pothos, snake plants and more are good candidates! Buy plants that match your indoor light conditions.

They, too, want a warm place to spend the winter! Be on the lookout for pests—aphids, mealy bugs—on houseplants. Inspect your plants weekly for any problems and address them when they appear.